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Military Divorce: Important Advice and Information for Service Members

Written by Bruce Feinstein, Esq. on . Posted in Divorce Blog

Military Divorce Advice and Information

What are the differences between civilian and military divorce and how can it affect your divorce?

There are over one million Americans serving in the U.S. military, and they are all subject to certain obligations and benefits. These affect every part of their lives, including the lives of their spouses and children. Unlike their civilian counterparts, there are certain issues a couple with one or both members serving in the military must address when they decide to divorce. Let’s go over some of the key points military couples need to know if they plan to file for divorce.

Military divorce is different from a civilian divorce in many ways. Smaller details like where the divorce is filed, and larger issues like child custody and support, are all subject to a new set of rules. A military divorce must be granted by a court that has jurisdiction over both spouses, and that is usually the state in which the military spouse is a resident. This can be different than the state where the couple was married since families in the service may move frequently, so it’s important to know this distinction when preparing to file for divorce.

Pensions and military benefits are another complicated set of issues that service members face. The military provides its members with benefits such as health insurance, life insurance and medical care, much like any other civilian job. These benefits do fall under the law of the state where the divorce is taking place, however the calculations for dividing military benefits and pensions differ from their civilian counterparts. This may require the need for an actuary and special software that deals specifically with military pensions.

Another key difference is child custody and support. Children need to be supported financially in every divorce case, and this is something that the military decrees as well. In fact, service members who violate child support can face even harsher reprimands than civilian couples, such as separation from the military. And the confusion surrounding child custody can be even greater for military couples and spouses. There is the added challenge of extended and frequent deployments, and this issue often poses a problem when members of the service decide to get a divorce.

One way to address this issue is to use parenting plans and family care plans. Divorcing couples need to have a plan that explains exactly how they will handle caring for their children once the divorce is finalized. There are usually contingency plans for various scenarios that cover visitation and where the children will live. These plans take into account the location of the service member’s military base and possible transfers. When only one spouse is in the military and he or she retains full custody, there may also be plans that shift custody to a family member or the service parent’s new spouse during a deployment. The key here is communication – open lines of dialogue between both spouses, commanding officers, and other family members is paramount. Military deployments and moves are common and come with their own uncertainties, so it’s best to make clear plans to ensure that children are cared for.

All this information may sound stressful for military couples who a planning to file for divorce in New York, but a divorce that is fair and equal to spouses and their children can be possible with a experienced divorce attorney. There are also other resources and networks, such as the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Office, that can provide more details and help.

If you or your spouse is in the military and looking for a divorce attorney in Queens, Contact the Law Offices of Bruce Feinstein, Esq. today for a Free Consultation.

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